More tourists from China have been drawn to the Philippines lately, according to the Department of Tourism.
Data from the DOT showed the combined number of visitors from three Chinese markets went up by 63 percent year-on-year to about 50,000 in January 2009.
Arrivals from Hong Kong grew 100 percent to 14,000 while arrivals from China surged 65.8 percent to 22,700. Visitors from Taiwan also increased 31.1 percent to about 12,600 during the first month of the year.
"The in-market tactical programs initiated by the DOT and its partners since November of last year for the Chinese New Year 2009 have greatly boosted the arrivals," Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said in a statement.
Durano noted that the increase in arrivals was boosted by new chartered flights between China and the Philippines. Among the routes now served by these chartered flights are Shanghai and Nanning to Cebu; Guangzhou to Clark; and Nanning and Kunming to Manila.
The Taiwanese market also grew from a steady recovery to a double-digit growth with the launch of chartered flights from Taipei to Kalibo and Cebu and from Kaoshiung to Cebu by Mandarin Airlines.
Mandarin Airlines’ regular charter flights between Taipei and Kalibo have carried a significant number of Taiwanese visitors to the island. These additional flights further served to accommodate the huge inbound traffic during the Chinese New Year celebration, the DOT said.
Durano said Clark has also established itself as a major hub as it opened chartered flights from Beijing through China Southern Airlines.
The Hong Kong market expanded its travel prospects to include Cebu and Boracay, with a substantial upsurge of Hong Kong tourists seen in these islands.
Baidu, a leading search engine in China which comprises 72 percent of its online market, pronounced that the Philippines is on their top 10 most-searched travel destinations.
"This is certainly great news for us as more than half of China’s tourist market use the web for planning their holidays," said Durano.
Tourism Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque, Jr. also attributed the increase in arrivals from these three travel markets to the Philippines' advantages such as affordable cost, Chinese-friendly culture and visa processing.
"We are strong on all three factors. We have value-for-money destination packages, pervasive Chinese influences, and visa-upon-arrival for tourists," Jarque said.
The DOT participated in major travel trade expositions such as the Taiwan International Travel Fair, Macau Heritage Fair, and China Dive Exhibition.
China has a fast-growing economy, with an annual average of 40 million outbound tourists each spending an average of $3,000 per trip, according to independent surveys on China’s tourism industry.